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Script for The heART of Black Survival

The heART of Black Survival

This is a time of fellowship. A time to reflect, think critically and grow in understanding of
experience and culture.
A time to heal and be healed.
At any time if you have a question--if you need clarification--simply raise your hand and I
will gladly answer your question.

This is also a time to gain understanding of being a black Christian. So, if you have a
question at the end, I will also have 15 minutes allotted.

Welcome to the snippet of what will be a full one-woman show: the heART of Black
A creative thesis presentation on the cultural implications of being Black, Christian, and

(Props: a paper folded up. Two or Three Chairs, Microphone/Speaker/Guitar, folder of


TEST: doesn’t mean I always pass. I fail. The teacher folds the paper like it isn’t already
made obvious to my counterparts that I’ve failed miserably.
The classroom asks:
“What did you get?” I Got an A+, I Got a B-! I studied so hard for this one. I promise I did.
But when I got to the test, I forgot.
I chose the infamous “C” because they say that’s the greatest guess.
I didn’t have the guts.
I lie.
I don’t reply to my classmates.
I failed the test.
I’m on an Island.
An Island.
The place where the people who want to share their failures go to escape loneliness.
And this is my story.
Our story.
In pieces.
In peace.
From being sold
And shipped
Cross seas.
To sending the message
& bearing the cross.
To shouting and tambourines.
I speak.

We live in a society where failure is not accepted and where perfection is glorified. A
society where weight is placed on certain human-judged elements.

Well, This is one of my tests. That I’ve failed at on numerous occasions.

And that I’ve never really told anyone.
That I’ve bottled in the darkness of myself.
This is unedited. (Well, sorta)
With no reasons to hide.
I’ll bring light.
I won’t lie.
I won’t filter.
But if you take a picture you may.
For mental snapshots be flawed anyways.
I’ll be authentic.
I’ll let go.
Be who I feel I’m supposed to be.

I’ll say what I was afraid to say in church (institution) and take my stab at BEING the
My name is Sanovia Garrett and this is TMA. (The Heart of Black Survival): A Reconciling of
the voices of being Black, Christian and Creative.

7-12 ​If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message
around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from
confusing God’s incomparable power with us. As it is, there’s not much chance of that. You
know for yourselves that we’re not much to look at. We’ve been surrounded and battered by
troubles, but we’re not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows
what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn’t left our side; we’ve been thrown
down, but we haven’t broken. What they did to Jesus, they do to us—trial and torture,
mockery and murder; what Jesus did among them, he does in us—he lives! Our lives are at
constant risk for Jesus’ sake, which makes Jesus’ life all the more evident in us. While we’re
going through the worst, you’re getting in on the best! (2 Corinthians 4:7-12, MSG)
You don’t have to be alone

You can come in the light

You don’t have to be alone

You can come on in the light.

Alright, Alright, Alright

“​The New Liberty Missionary Baptist Church was where I learned about God. Well, at least the

dogmatic breath of truths about Jesus being the Savior of the world. It took quite a bit for me

to understand this concept and still today I am constantly undergoing critical evaluation of

who God is and how God reveals him or her or itself to me.

Sounds confusing?

During church I would witness my grandma always raising her hands in a slave like

trance during the service. It was an expression from somewhere sacred and a place deeper

than basic human understanding. As I watched I now realize she would have actually been

considered a bit of a rebel for New Liberty. She had the desire to yell, to clap harder and

louder and to stay in God’s presence longer.

New Liberty was the opposite of the implications of its name--as it felt bound and tight,

traditional and mechanical. Unlike what I would later experience in the nondenominational

churches I would call home, New Liberty was the upper class businessman who predictably

always got the triple grande, nonfat, extra hot caramel macchiato at his local coffee shop.

New Liberty mirrored the rigid, nonmoving British soldiers outside of the Queen’s palace--in

weekly procedure, that is. The movement was another thing. There was slight swaying from
side to side, clapping and singing, but nothing like what I would later experience as a

catharsis experience of release.

Of the twelve parking spaces allocated for the church, about three would be filled when

we arrived for Sunday school. Dressed in white sequin socks, ​(​a custom to every little black

church girl), my black shoes with the little chunky heel, white stockings and a floral patterned

dress, I would straighten the permed but graceless bang in the front of my head, per usual,

and enter the doors of the church weekly. After Sunday school we had time to eat the usual

donuts from the local bakery Concannon’s and fellowship with the other members. Regularly,

Da’Veona and I were the only children who were present at Sunday school and my grandma

(ironically) was also the teacher for the youth.

The first song was usually Jesus is on the Mainline,

Jesus is on the mainline.

Tell Him what you won’t, ohhhhhhh!

Jesus is on the mainline.

Tell Him whatchu’ won’t.

Jesus is on the mainline.

Tell Him whatchu won’t, ah you just!

Call Him up annnn’ tell Him, whatchu’ won’t.

The music consisted of an occasional tambourine and handclaps, an organ and later on, an

electric guitar. Our voices and hands were the only thing attempting to keep rhythm and tune.

The church never had drums and did not really have the space for them. At one point we had

both the organ and the electric guitar and then just the electric guitar which is not the usual
setup in a black church. I say this to illuminate to you the antiquity of this church; the place I

spent over seven years of my formative spiritually adolescent life.

About a year later my grandma gave us the ultimatum. We could no longer be the

‘Amen’ police and being the only consistent kids in Sunday school was not enough. It was time

for more meaningful participation in the service. Imagine, being a kid, minding your own

business, playing tic-tac-toe, counting your ‘amen’s’ and being asked to defer your childhood

for the sake of responsibility and action (the nerve of caring adults!). We were offered two

options--either be an usher (you know, the people who tell you where to sit, pass you fans and

an envelope when it is time to pay tithes) or join the choir.

“Grandma, why do I have to do anything,” I asked whining, “Why can’t I just come to church?”

My grandma swiftly replied, “Well, Sanovia, I want chall’ to get involved at church. It’s not

enough to just come, you have to do something. Plus, the church needs the help and if that’s

not enough it’s because I said so!”

It’s always because they said so. “ (Pp. 50-53)

Video Link from New Liberty: ​https://youtu.be/-P9cSnv-L9k

Time of Creation with Audience*​(optional)

Let us breathe.
(Lead Group in succession of breathing opportunities. This should take 5-10 minutes. Each
person finds a tone and breathes--we take the tone up about 4 times and then someone
finds a rhythm with their hands or feet.
Someone take lead on keeping the bass tone.
We need some mids/altos.
From there we get to a place of movement.
Add music
In the Beginning, G0d Created.
The heavens and the earth.
And the earth was without form and void
And darkness was on the face of the deep.
And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
And God said, “Let there be light” and he saw that the light was good.

Song: What the Spirit Says do: ​https://youtu.be/Xx7bB75pl0c

Written in 2008-2009

Baptized by the age of 12,

Believed in heaven, believed in hell,
Or so I thought I did.
Died on the cross for my sins, and 3 days later rose, he did.
Small church I would never put the blame, it’s where I came from, that won’t change, but
my growth sat still as the years zoomed, I couldn't see how he let me glide through.
When I went left, he was still there, even when it seemed he did not care.
I said I’d get it all together. . . One DAY, Now is the time for ufn! But in actuality NOW is the
time for the Revelation of Jesus Christ,
God’s only son.
I broke all the rules that I could from sex, to lies, to “LOVE”, that’s what I liked to call what
these boys showed me, the physicality of it all.
The Touch.
The Words.
The Kiss.
I was blinded by the hurt of feeling alone.
Never really had a “Daddy” or a “mommy” to call my own.
That could hold me safely and gently in their arms in my times of need.
Brave grandmother took us in, stepped up to take the lead.
But the deprivation of my soul was definitely there, indeed.
I searched to fill the void and did what I thought would help, but little did I know he had
been there,
I didn’t Need Anyone Else <3
My heart it kept on breaking, while my stomach it turned, I kept on shaking.
God knew what I could see, so he placed him right in front of me, to show me where my
problems were and where I actually needed to go.
Though I felt my heartbreak more, I realized he had been knocking on my door, and I
refused to let him in.
Persistently he knocked as I slept through the pain; He had come to rescue me that day on
August 11th, 1991. He knew.

The Move
Black Christianity is like the extra fry in the bottom of the Chik-Fil-A bag.
It is the excitement and rush of a candy overdose.
It is the sound of prisoners running free, finally.
The feel of calloused hands and feet.
The state of weariness overpowered by joy.
The Spirit is moving about.
It is the ringing of freedom bells.
The stomping of indignation against narratives that did not include me.
The rubbing tension of expression and silence.
Black church be like euphoria.
And it be will to keep going.
The pumping.
The priming.
The bending & breaking.
The ground summoning you to fall
And hands like magnets to hairlines
The Spirit creeps in and you can fight it, barely.
The sky will call you, summon you to commune and remove the weight.
But it would love to dance with you.
So, it is moving and finding life
And spaces with the least of these.
Building them up, from the inside out.
I am home.

But, what if the Spirit says rebel?

Realize that God is probably not white
Become decolonized.
Run instead of wait.
Wait instead of run.
Will you do?
What the Spirit?
Say do?

SOUNDCLOUD: ​Stop Waiting on God, He’s Not Coming!

“To that degree, the black church is continually perpetuating a culture in which there

is no objective frame of thought and sectioning, separation(i.e., being in the world and not of

it) and leading souls to Christ rather than connecting through authenticity, courage and

story. “ (page 11).

Cole (1970) shared one distinction of what she calls “nigger culture” by exerting that

“being black in the United States teaches one how to live, feel, and express soul (p. 53)”. The

soul as the subject of study meant that there was a great sense of long suffering, deep emotion

and a oneness with all black people (p. 54). For the slave, the soul was important. The soul

was what helped them to live through the “this-worldly” dialectic and into the “otherworldly”

dialectic. For a scriptural example, Psalms 42:11 echoes old slave spirituals and gospel songs

today. One example is the song “How I Got Over”. One distinct line proclaims, “my soul looks

back and wonder, how I got over”. (page 25)

I Got Soul
Soul of Black Folk.
How does it feel to be a problem?
A theological problem.
Both Black & Creative.
Both Creative and Christian.
Both Christian and Authentic.
Wandering soul.

Song: How I Got Over:


To Be black is to have grandmas.

“One night my grandma called us into her room. She danced around her in-home

sanctuary regularly, lifting and waving her hands in a way I wasn’t kin to seeing at the time.

At church, they clapped, but grandma moved. With her eyes sewn together tightly, her hands

alternating between being clinched and five-fingers open and head moving in that side-to-side

movement like the great Stevie Wonder in a trance behind his piano, she had no shame of the

God in her room. That God was a cd-playing, disc changing, book reading, highlighted and

noted God of the Bible who did not mind a little bit of blues and soul playing in the in-between

time. Grandma enjoyed some Angie Stone and some blues artist whose names I can’t even say

because I just grew aware of the sound of blues. “ (Page 56).

Song: Somebody Prayed for Me

“DuBois speaks of a double consciousness that the negro slave had to experience, a

“two-ness,--an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two

warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn

asunder” (p.38). This double consciousness did more than deny blacks equal opportunity, but

it weighed so heavily on their conscious that it prevented them from becoming their full

potential as human beings. This “veil” made it extremely difficult for blacks to see themselves

portrayed in any other way than the way the greater society pigeonholed them (Macat, 2015).

The overlap of being black, being Christian and being a creative can cause this lapse in being

able to fulfill our full potential, thus, inhibiting our authenticity in creating.” (Page 29)

The Church of Artesia

Start clip at 10:50 Soundcloud-14:58:


You do not have Consent to speak out of turn.
Consent to praise.
You do not have consent to sit there.
Consent to clap.
You do not have Consent to wear that.
Consent to Follow Jesus.
You do not have consent to disrupt the status quo.
Consent to run.
You do not have consent to run further than in this circle.
Consent to call upon God.
Not with dirty hands.
Consent to dance, just not that way.
Be the Light--but stay hidden.
Be here, just
Find heaven, without knowing earth.
Consent to carry your cross.
Your ancestors are dead.
Consent to write the vision,
But make it literally plain.
& Let the Bishop read it.
Be free.
Male or female.
Live life, but keep that truth to yourself.
Remember that God is creative, but always color within the lines, no one likes the table
turner in you.
The incorrigible disturber of peace, * shake head

Spread the Truth, but never enter the darkness.


Shine your Light.

Song: This Little Light of Mine

There were countless sundays where I felt different. The experience of release and

healing of the Spirit would come over me. My hands raised me. My smile was more filled with

joy. I felt lighter. I even ran laps around the church when I felt the “Victory”. I started shouting

and dancing and when I sang I learned to exhort and lead a group in worship as well as the

church members. Leading praise and worship is a big responsibility. Generally, you are one of
the first voices people hear when they enter the church and the last they may experience

before leaving. Our godly duty each week was to take the church on a spiritual journey of joy

in sorrow, peace for tomorrow and rejoicing of the goodness of good. COTLG for me was

celebration, but it was also tribulation. It brought with it the dichotomy of growing into a

young woman of virtue while also experiencing the temptations of life.

Song: I Need You (Original)

I Need Thee

I Want Me
I can’t---find her.
I can’t---Find her.
She ain’t free.

I want me.
I want me.
I want me.
I want me.
I want me.

“During the 2017 Campolo Institute Research in Social Science a participant stated

that not being able to be yourself is a social justice issue. I agree. I am living in a time where

there are debates on the legitimacy of certain musician and artists’ claiming of Christianity as

their belief system. For many artists today, I have witnessed the duality of living the life of an

artist sharing their lived experiences (which may often be politically charged) and merging

that with their religious or spiritual beliefs. When you experience the dichotomy of being a

black Christian and a creative moved by James Cone’s (1991) idea of the “divine Spirit”--you
can not help but to live in a space where your authenticity is challenged. Cone (1991) states

that black music is a form of theology that tells us about how the divine Spirit moves people

toward unity and self-determination.With artists like Chance the Rapper, Common, and

Kendrick Lamar (to name a few) identifying as Christians, one may experience the

uncomfortability of being both propelled to create through experience and hold on to the

more accepted ideologies of the faith. James Baldwin on the creative process called the artist

the “incorrigible disturber of the peace”​ ​(Baldwin, 1962).​ ​These artists play integral roles as

the prophets of today who bring the messages and experiences of the time into their creations.

As one of my favorite artists Nina Simone believed, an artist must reflect the times.

The times for Simone was societal upheaval for the sake of advocating for basic human

rights for African Americans. The lived experience of the African-American, at the time,

needed a way to reflect the times in which they were attempting to survive and find true

expression. For the Negro, for the slave, and for the black, culture has always been sacrificed

and, or exchanged, only to be replaced with a more accepted prevailing thought. One can

argue that the macro-institution that is the black church is in th​e business of silencing

expressions that run counter to what is more readily accepted. “ (p. 10-11).

Not Being able to be yourself--IS a social justice issue.

Song: River (Original) Capo on 3

Write your story

Ava Duvernay your way to glory
Making history legendary to common folk.
To your dream... Girl... Dream... Boy
There's a song that plays deep inside you.
Music to be made by your heartbeat.
Which, instructed by hope has pained it's way to grace.
In --- red stains you see the world hasn't changed, but you,
revolutionaries of the 21st century's frontline
Confederacy becomes confetti in this carnivorous pursuit to learn to share.
We make musical scoresheet's envied because of melanin, ca

If people come around you and don't change, something is wrong with your light.

“ I was naturally inclined and inspired to write about my “feeling and thinking” which

aided me in coping with my day-to-day struggles. Though the theological division of the

secular or “devil songs” and the religious songs occurred and the focus shifted from the

existential experiences of being black in America to being either spiritual or christian in

nature or sitting in the oppositional seat, I decided to bridge this gap. Cone states, “The blues

are “secular spirituals”. They are secular in the sense that they confine their attention solely to

the immediate and affirm the bodily expression of black soul, including its sexual

manifestations. They are spirituals because they are impelled by the same search for the truth

of black experience” (KL 1421). “ (P. 75).

I was extremely convicted about sex and knew it to only be a union for marriage. I can

still remember the way my friends responded to the change--they knew they would find me in

the church, at my school’s choir rehearsal or in class. My language changed. Everything

became “churchy”. I stopped listening as frequently to what many people call secular music

and listened to the likes of Fred Hammond, The Clark Sisters and Tye Tribett. My poems even

reflected a likeness for the Father I was experiencing.

The time at COTLG and at Ball State University persuaded me to write more poetry in

the form of spoken word. My first ever piece was performed during a Poetry to Praise service
in April 2013. The Drive-Thru Experience was my first time really touching the tip of the

things I wanted to say which I now call The HeARTist Things to Say (#THT2SAY). I found ways

to walk around the taboo things with quick spirited “hallelujah’s” and “thank you Jesus’!”

I recall that same poem being performed at the Homecoming 2013 Talent Contest (see

Appendix C for link to online appendix). In an auditorium with more than one thousand

people present, I shared a spoken word piece about a young girl who was sexually

mischevious, but who also loved Jesus. Afterwards there was one young white lady walked up

to me to tell me that what I shared on stage was her story. Evidently, It was a version of my

experience, but she believed wholeheartedly that she had rights to claim it too. After this day, I

realized I had to say more and I wanted to be more authentic in my sharing. Similar to the

shepherd going back for the one instead of solely focusing on the 999 present, I had reached

out to one--and it mattered in that moment. That I go and do more outside of the

church--sharing this light for all. So all could taste and see the goodness. So all could hear,

EVEN if I had to say some extremely difficult things.

Song: Lovin’ you/ Psychles (original)

TMA: The Morning After

*imma probably do the same thing tomorrow

*ill text you

*i really thought we were going to watch Netflix.

& chill.

I promise I'm not this girl.

I don't do this often.

Ya know, I'm not that girl who meets a guy on an app and just ya know...

I really have to pee

*i should just leave

*im ready to go!

Where my panties at?

I still don't know and I still don't remember!

Smiles sometimes are simply for working out

I gotta Pee.

What time is it?

I don't know

I can't remember

*wheres my bra!?

Walk of shame

* walk of fame

It's okay, you're still holy. Jesus probably still

Thinks the same thing about you.

*ballin', ballin' I'm so freakin awesome!....

your love never fails it never gives up

The Silence of the Lambs

I laid down and asked him to do it. I'd be the test subject with a mouth closed no
screams. I let that weapon penetrate me. So deep I couldn't speak. And when he leaves
I'll still be open. & In my rebellion there was no one to comfort me but I had a lot of


Like two being Siamese in one room, this size in me, no space. And I ask myself, what
do I need to fit? What do I need to have more space in my life.

And then I turned the music up.

Closed my eyes.

In the dark.

I felt my way to freedom.

Hand delivered to my enemy and my walls invaded.

Because my friends are now turned foes our mirth is now hurt.

For the sins I have committed are in my skirt. They burn me to my core and these bones
rejoice no more.

And yet, there is no one to comfort me.

But there are plenty of these, thoughts.

Now my skin bleeds, my hands are calloused for a sake that's my own.

I know it was the blood, I know it was the blood. I know it was the
blood--for me. One day when I was lost--He died upon the cross. I know it
was the blood for me.

The same mouth that swallowed His cum last night is the same mouth that’s gonna praise
you this morning.
The same hands that went into his pants, that held the back of his head,
That gripped the sheets will be raised as a sign of surrender to you,
This mourning.
The same eyes that closed in pleasure will close in thoughts of peace from you, this
The same bowed down head that prays to you
Bobbed for forbidden fruit last night and it’s drowning
Drowning in your love because you’re still
The same God.
The mourning after is comfortable now,
I don’t say much anymore.

16 Men.
16 men between my legs later you’d think I would get off the train.
It’s crowded and nobody hears me speak.
Music playing for all to hear,
It hushes conversation.
Normal volume is a whisper against my defender.
He stares.
With the taste of me on his lips,
He stares.
And I want to say he made me do it
With a new-born’s crying moans I reached
17 men later you’d think I would get off this train.
That my ticket is one way only.
I regret ever discounting myself for the sake of a roundtrip.
I want to get off and walk with legs weary from only the journey.

But now, 18 men between my legs later I have used dirty hands to get dirty laundry
washed with bleach cascading my heart,
Though never clean.
Just mixed with dirty water.
My hands dipped in places they shouldn’t be.
I’m so dirty, longing to be clean.

Psalm 84:11

Song: Blackout

This research is intended to be both healing for myself and for the reader. The hope is

that through the use of story people would begin to understand others and understand the self

(Chang, 2008). The autobiographical presentation of autoethnography is one of the main

reasons for its use as method and process. C.S. Song (2011) believed that storytelling was

important because theology is story. To read my experiences is an opportunity to attach it to

meaning in the reader’s personal life.

This autoethnography explored the cultural implications of authentically creating as a

black person with social ties to the black church and it only touches a fragment of the greater

story related to being black, Christian and creative. Autoethnography is not only a good way

to research because of its ability to “story” people together (recall the definition of healing), it
is helpful in encouraging compassion and promoting dialogue (Ellis & Bochner, nd, p. 748).

The use of storytelling as a method is used to invite others into the metaphorical shoes of


Outro Song: Pack Light--

Where I am going with this is a community dedicated to​ passionately pursuing purpose
through creativity, community, and conversation. Visit Sanoviagarrett.com to
learn more and sign up for updates.

Firstly, I want to thank my Grandma Laura Beasley, the woman who gave and is still to this

day giving and sacrificing the way Jesus did at Calvary. I thank her for her God-sized love

which has helped me everyday to continually realize my potential.

I appreciate Jada Bean and Ishmail Ebo who never let me feel alone.

I thank Dr. Boyd, Dr. Corbitt, Dr. Johnson, Dr. Nix-Early and Eastern University for being

patient with me. I thank them for taking the time to learn, so that I could in turn, be taught

arts, faith, justice and reason.

To Chaka and Katelyn, I am sincerely rooting for you.

To myself, I say congratulations--this is only the beginning.

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